You’ve probably heard that “sitting is the new smoking,” and we have new research that confirms this unsettling sentence. A large study published looked at the habits of nearly 8,000 adults and found that the amount of time participants spent sitting was directly correlated with their risk of early death. And yes, that’s even the case if you exercise regularly.
Unfortunately, in the modern world, many of us have to sit. It’s 2017, and our jobs typically require us to hunch over a computer rather than spend our days hunting and gathering. As alarming as this study is, there is some good news that comes out of it: If you move every 30 minutes, your mortality risk is significantly lower.
So, how can you make that happen? Here’s what the experts suggest.
Drink lots of water.
Drink lots of water—because yes, having to pee every 30 minutes is actually tremendously helpful when it comes to sitting less.
During our waking hours, we should be going to the bathroom every hour and in turn, drinking enough water to promote frequent urination. I recommend ‘doing the triangle walk‘ every hour. This walk includes your desk, refilling your water, going to the bathroom, and returning to your desk. It takes only three or four minutes, and it makes you more productive when you sit back down at your desk and get back to business.”
And if drinking tons of water isn’t natural for you, find a water bottle you love. If you don’t like your water bottle, you won’t use it. Treat yourself to a gorgeous glass bottle that’s easily washed at the office and doesn’t give you the creeps. Better yet, purchase a beautiful water glass that you enjoy carrying with you to meetings or looks nice sitting by your computer.
Invest in small yoga therapy balls or foam roller.
Even taking frequent breaks to stretch out tight hip flexors is not always enough. As a way to keep your muscles and body engaged throughout the day, use small yoga therapy balls. Place them right in the middle of your glutes and roll on them for a few minutes at night to loosen up your hips.
In addition to adding more movement to your day, these balls are amazing for fascia health (the soft tissue and connective pathways surrounding our bones and joints). This fascia constricts when sitting for long periods leading to knots in muscle that can cause discomfort and pain. The yoga balls also easily packs in a suitcase as they are practically weightless and lifesavers after a long plane ride. It’s powerful to know you can self-massage your fascia to create healthier tissues at any given moment.
If you are so inclined, set an alarm on your phone and have it go off every 30 minutes.
We already spend too much time with technology and could benefit from using a lot less of it so set a 30-minute “get up and walk” alarm—and many experts recommend this technique. Similarly Fitbits and other activity devises have notifications to put in 250 steps/hr for example. So if you’re someone who is on a phone or computer all day anyway, add an alarm that reminds you to get up and walk every 30 minutes. Even if you don’t do it every single time, the constant reminder will be helpful in the long run.